About four years ago my friend Alex asked me if I'd do some rough character designs for him for a pilot he was maybe going to make at Disney TV. It was going to be about a brother and sister who spend their summer in a weird town in Oregon with their creepy old uncle. It never got made though. Too bad, it was going to be really cool.
Oh wait, no! That's not right. It DID get made, and now it's on TV! It's called Gravity Falls! It exists! WHat!
So, the following drawings were done before Alex even had a story for the pilot. He gave me a written run down of what the characters were like and I just doodled out a bunch of stuff. I'm sort of embarrassed at the sloppiness of these now that I look at them again (after four years of being rolled up with a rubber band and stashed in a drawer) but that's sort of what first passes are like, for me at least: frenetic searches for shapes and personalities.
I can't remember exactly what Alex told me about Dipper, but I do remember this: Dipper is based on Alex as a kid and he should also have a hat. What kind of hat was still up in the air...maybe a captain's hat, or one of those Greek fisherman's hats, or a kinda too big trucker hat?
The one on the far left is still my favorite (that's why it has an asterisk).
Mabel's prompts were something like: wears hideous sweaters, is Dipper's foil. She was supposed to be the fun one. I could relate to the sweater thing. I was a kid in the late 80's and early 90's when sweater factories everywhere were on an ugliness rampage and I recall, vividly, the horrors of that era...sweater-wise. I had a pink one with heart shaped glitter balloons on it. WHY.
Oh man, I just realized that Mabel still has a little headband like in the asterisk sketch up there! That's pretty neat.
I took a pass at Wendy too! All I remember Alex saying was "Maybe she's tall? I dunno." She was always meant to be Dipper's crush, and older and cooler but not bitchy in any way.
So I messed around with making her look tall and awkward, and sort of mellow in an indie-teenage-awkward tall girl way.
OH yes, and I did a bunch of little Grunkle Stans. These were fun because old men are gross. They have weird shapes, like squiggly parts where there shouldn't be any.
So, if I remember right (which I might not) these designs were used as a loose jumping-off point for the pilot (which is not the pilot that was on TV, but a very rough pilot that like nobody has seen), and then stowed away, and then ultimately it was decided that the show should look more like Alex's own personal style of drawing, which is how it looks now, which really is appropriate since it's his semi-autobiographical cartoon creation.
There are a few things that remain from this first pass though, like the shape of Mabel's sweater and Dipper's slightly too-short shorts, and his trucker hat.
I did do a few more drawings before it was decided that the style of the show would go another way. These are more nailed down, cleaned up and such:
I love those ringer tee shirts, with the color on the neck and the arms and rest white.
I think those braces that are just floating rectangles were Alex's suggestion...or they were my idea in which case I take aalllllll the credit.
I thought it would be really cute if Mabel had little boots. Did anyone else have beloved cowboy boots as a kid? I did.
I still do.
Also, leggings. Girls in the 90's were all about leggings.
So fast forward a bunch to the present:
Now my husband works on Gravity Falls, as background supervisor, and amazingly succumbed to peer pressure and made a blog of his own! He's going to be posting his background drawings n stuff on it!
I may have a biased opinion, but I think he is pretty cool.
Not to mention the fact that I have a bunch of buddies who also work on the show and make it look all beautiful and stuff. It seems to already have a sort of cult-ish following even though only one episode has aired (if tumblr is any indicator at least). If you haven't seen it, I think there's a freebie episode on itunes, AND there will be new episodes every Friday on the Disney Channel until they run out of new episodes.
Anywho, I feel sort of honored to have had first crack at designing these guys.